Washington, 1 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - The U.S. State Department yesterday said it is pleased that the people of Albania participated mostly peacefully in yesterday's national elections.
State Department spokesman John Dinger called the poll a crucial first step toward democracy and economic reform.
The U.S. sent a large monitoring team of 55 people to support the effort of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as a delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights John Shattuck.
The delegation observed the elections and noted a high turnout and a relatively calm atmosphere. It said violence in some parts of the country did not appear widespread or seem to disrupt the polling.
Shattuck's team also observed the vote counting and said it was complicated and sometimes contentious, but within the boundaries of overall international standards.
The State Department did not give an overall evaluation of the Albanian elections. Dinger said the U.S. will await the OSCE's final judgment on the quality of the election.